On Monday more fuel was added to the popular theory that terrorists are behind the disappearance of a Malaysian Airlines jet when a travel agent said tickets for the two men who boarded the flight with stolen passports were arranged by a "shadowy Iranian" known as "Mr. Ali." Now it seems their secrecy had nothing to do with terrorism. One of the men has been identified as a 19-year-old Iranian Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, who was trying to enter Germany to seek asylum.
Though his methods were often criticized, bestselling author and reporter Joe McGinniss, who died on Monday, definitely left his mark on the world of journalism. He rose to fame with the publication of The Selling of the President, his influential behind-the-scenes account of President Nixon's 1969 campaign. It spent months on the best-seller list, and in 1983 he had another massive hit with Fatal Vision. The book covered the trial of Jeffrey MacDonald, a physician and former Green Beret convicted of murdering his family – and, controversially, McGinniss's conclusion that his subject was guilty. His latest, less successful escapade involved penning the Sarah Palin biography The Rogue while renting the house next door to her in Wasilla, Alaska. McGinniss announced last year that he had inoperable prostate cancer, and he died due to complications related to the disease.
The latest twist in the Bridgegate saga gives Port Authority Chairman David Samson a temporary reprieve: Shortly before news outlets learned on Monday afternoon that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan had demanded documents from Samson, the the subpoena was withdrawn. No reason was given, but the New York office said that New Jersey's U.S. Attorney, who is already investigating the lane closures, "may" ask Samson for similar documents in the future. According to the Bergen Record, "some observers said it would have been unusual for a second U.S. Attorney’s Office to conduct an investigation that overlapped with one already under way."
While he almost certainly won't be lured into a slap fight like Bradley Cooper or get spanked like Justin Bieber (though we can dream, can't we?), President Obama is now the latest celebrity to subject himself to Zach Galifianakis' intensity for an episode of Between Two Ferns. Obama is stopping by in order to encourage young people to sign up for health insurance before the March 31 deadline. The episode will drop at Funny or Die Tuesday at 7:30 a.m., and we're betting it will be good. If anyone can stay dead-pan while humoring sweaty, incoherent people, it's definitely the president.
Members of the Senate are getting less sleep these days, and they can blame Rand Paul. Inspired by Paul's career-boosting Mr. Smith Goes to Washington moment last year, 26 Democrats decided to stage a filibuster on Monday night to draw attention to the issue of climate change. Except, their demonstration is actually more like Ted Cruz's 21-hour Obamacare fauxlibuster, since they aren't preventing or delaying a vote. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, who organized the effort, described it as an "opening salvo" to show "that we’re taking this seriously and there is a stirring in the Senate around this issue."
It stood out on my SXSW conference program, a morsel of easily-mockable geekery amidst a sea of boring panels about ninja marketing and social platform building – "A core conversation with Google Glass Explorers." Oh good, I thought, some fish in a barrel.
As it turned out, though, the Google Glass meetup I attended over the weekend will almost certainly be the most heartwarming thing I see in Austin this year. Far from a gathering of smug geeks bearing $1,500 face computers, the meeting became a safe space for people who, by virtue of their choice in eyewear, have set themselves apart from the rest of society, and a venue for Explorers (as Glass's beta-test wearers are called) to compare notes on the daily delights and frustrations of life with the world's most polarizing gadget.
Republicans have poured millions of dollars into a Senate ad in Michigan castigating Democratic Senate candidate Gary Peters, who voted for the Affordable Care Act, for done near killing a woman named Julie Boonstra, who has cancer. Boonstra -- who also turned out to be the ex-wife of a Republican county chairman -- sadly looks into the camera and explains how she had a wonderful insurance plan to treat her cancer, but Obamacare cancelled it, and now she could die:
As you may have heard, New Jersey's federal prosecutors have already handed out a lot of subpoenas as part of their dual investigations of Bridgegate and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer's claim that Christie administration officials threatened to withhold Hurricane Sandy relief funds from her city unless she went along with a redevelopment project favored by the New Jersey governor. On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Christie's scandals have officially crossed the Hudson to New York: The office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has subpoenaed records from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey "related to the business interests" of chairman David Samson.
Last Wednesday, 11-year-old Kareem Granton disappeared from his family's Brownsville apartment building, triggering a community search effort and some local media coverage. Though Kareem was said to have a history of running away, he had never been gone for so long, and his mother, Precious Granton, was understandably very concerned. "It’s my very worst nightmare. You couldn’t have a nightmare worse than this," she told reporters. Luckily, the situation ended happily on Monday: A woman recognized Kareem on the 4 train at Union Square during her morning commute and alerted a police officer on the platform, though she left before anyone could get her name, the New York Daily News reports.
Investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson left her position at CBS today, she announced on Twitter, over what Politico reports was growing frustration "with what she saw as the network's liberal bias." Although Attkisson insisted the split was "amicable," she's been hit repeatedly in recent months for what some co-workers called "agenda-driven" reporting on the Obama administration, including, of course, the Affordable Care Act and Benghazi. (Less politically, her anti-vaccine reporting is also iffy.) Attkisson just happens to have a book coming out this year tentatively called Stonewalled: One Reporter's Fight for Truth in Obama's Washington.